New designs encourage playtime for animals and visitors

Streets of Montclair Re-Created at Montclair Township Animal Shelter

MSU students transformed a plain wall into the streets of Monclair - modified for a cat's pleasure.
Diane Lilli

A trip to the zoo is only a minute away – ever since the Montclair Township Animal Shelter joined forces with not one – but several creative forces in town.

When the township took over the animal shelter, under the umbrella of the Montclair Health Department in January of 2009, many residents wondered what changes would occur. Previously, for the fifteen years before this new in-town venture, the shelter had been run by a non-profit group.

Some residents fretted – would the township move quickly and efficiently?

The answer – as you will plainly see if you venture down to the site – is a resounding yes.

Working together, students of Montclair State University from the Industrial Design Department, the Township of Montclair, and private businesses have designed a Dr. Seuss worthy, lively colorful living and playing area for the shelter animals.

Bob Silver, Montclair resident and owner of the Bravitas Group Inc and, helped out with finding not only a builder/designer for the site, but also with the donation of goods and services.

"This is a monumental program that brings the public private and municipal together for the first time in montclair," said Silver.

Celia Trembulak,the Township project administrator for the project, said the help of many people, including Silver, was key to making this project a great success.

“I just love Bob,” she said. “This project is wonderful.”

The first room to be completed, which is open for viewing now, will be very familiar to anyone from Montclair.

“It’s fabulous,” said Trembulak. “It is made like a map of Montclair, and the streets are made into ledges. The kittens walk along the streets (ledges) and jump from street to street.”

Pausing for a moment and laughing, she added, “I didn’t know kittens so little are so fearless, and could go up so high. It’s a beautiful room, and it’s so much fun to watch them in there.”

The next room, being built now, is also for kittens. But this room will especially delight the younger set, because it is designed like a children’s playground.

And, like any playground worth its salt, this one will feature a park bench, so viewers can check out the action.

“People can sit and watch the cats play,” said Trembulak. “There is a lot of stimulation for the cats. There is crow’s nest, just like a real kids’ play set; they have a ladder to climb, a platform with a rood on it hat our health inspector donated; and even a ladder that was cut down to make shorter.”

As for the park bench, the idea behind this is that anyone wanting to take a kitten or cat home can watch their choice playing, in order to get a good feel for their compatibility.

“Instead of looking at a cat in a cage, people can sit on a park bench and watch their behavior,” she said. “It really is like going to the zoo.”

But, unlike the zoo, this is a free spot to take your family, and there’s a distinct advantage to visiting the shelter. You just might

take home a new pet for your family to love – a bonus for any animal lover.

The Township of Montclair Animal Control and Humane Law Enforcement Department is committed to providing assistance to the residents and animals of Montclair. Our goals are education, enforcement, rescue and rehabilitation.

Animal Control/Montclair Animal Shelter

Melissa Neiss, Shelter Director/Animal Cruelty Officer

Roberto Delgato, Sr. Animal Control Officer

Montclair Animal Shelter

77 Willow Street

Montclair, New Jersey 07042

Phone: 973-744-8600

For animal control issues please call the following numbers during hours indicated:

• Monday - Friday, 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. call the Montclair Animal Shelter: 973-744-8600

• For emergencies, weekends, holidays and after office hours call the Police Department: 973-744-1234